Marcelo Zarvos


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Brazilian pianist Zarvos is heartily influenced by Hermeto Pascoal and Egberto Gismonti, and it shows in this brightly hued recording, his third. Sensual Bahian dance themes are accented with minimalistic and European classical overtones combined with the mysterious, lilting signatures that define the South American diaspora, forming the core of this pretty, captivating music.

Zarvos, whose piano playing is quite tonic, tonal and tuneful, utilizes instrumentation that perfectly suits his music. Peter Epstein plays soprano saxophone exclusively, and is the focal point for the melodic base. Dorothy Lawson, cello, and Mauro Refosco, marimba, give support with beautiful rhapsodic statements of their own. Renato Pereira provides a percussive kindling and guitarist Romero Lubambo shows up on two tracks. The music is highly composed and the variation between pieces is hardly noticable, everything seamlessly flows from the source as a river. The two deviations might be the 11+ minute "Lament" where Zarvos stretches out in a fanciful flight of miminalist endeavor, his one note samba, or "Ghost Child" with its marimba led 20th century leanings along the lines of a Steve Reich. These influences are more than pronounced, they are the lifeblood of Zarvos' most personal approach. The title is appropriate, for the music is akin to an under-the-surface journey into unknown territory, with twists and turns that lead to who knows where. A dark side is present, but approached positively as an opportunity for discovery, from the berimbau intro of "Rondo Baiao" to the prayer-like closer "Lu's Rag." Those who are familiar with the music of Oregon will also find many similarities in this, a true world music example, realized when ethnic music and rhythms are brewed with jazz barley and chamber hops.

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